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Tuning the BS1400

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  • Tuning the BS1400

    As reported in my other post, I just brought got a Ridgid BS1400 setup in my tiny little shop.

    Well, I am having some trouble getting it working as well as I think it can, and was hoping for some help.

    First... The bandsaw is vibrating a little more then I feel like it should. When I first turned it on, it was vibrating WAY more then it should have, which I fixed with loosening the motor belt tension. However, if I loosed it any more, I feel like the belt will be TOO loose. Any advice?

    Second... And this is the real problem. When I go cut something, the blade does not seem to stay properly within the guide blocks very well. It seems to be jumping out a bit, moving side to side in front of the blocks, etc.

    Now, perhaps I just don't know how to use the saw right - highly possible - and am causing it to pull out by some operational error. However, I am not so sure.

    I have gone through the process of tensioning the blade, aligning the blocks and wheel and all such things in accordance with the manual SEVERAL times. The performance has improved some, but not too much.

    One question I had was concerning the guide blocks themselves. The manual stated that the blocks should be pushed together as far as possible without pinching the blade. It gave the example of a "dollar bill on one side of the blade" as an example of a good way measure.

    Well, when I align them together this far, I feel like they are two close, as they are practically touching the blade. This seems wrong. But, as I am brand new to bandsaws, maybe it is really ok. ???

    One idea I had to keep the blade more where I want it was to increase the tension. However, this concerned me both with blade life and safety (I assume a breaking blade can be a dangerous thing?).

    Anyways, I am basically lost in respect to how to tune this all up properly. Like I said above, I am brand new to the world of bandsaws, so any assistance would be appreciated.

    And, just FYI, I am doing some curve cutting on some sillohuete pieces that will be hung on the wall. Some of them are a little tricky with the curves and all.

    Thanks for your time!

  • #2
    Hey Capt.

    First thing I would do is replace the origanal guide blocks with "cool blocks". The way I set mine up is I pinch them together on the blade, not too tight, just so they touch. Side to side blade movement will end. Make sure the top guides housing is no more than 1/4" above the stock your cutting, this will help keep the blade in place through the stock. Set the bearings behind the blade about 1/64". So the blade turning doesn't touch the bearing, but does when cutting.

    For blade tension, there is a settings on the tensioner that corrisponds with the blade width. On mine, it pretty accurate. If you feel you need more tension on the blade, advance it a turn at a time.

    For the vibration, it could be several things. Open the doors exposing the wheels. Turn it on and see if the are running round, or if one or both was damaged in shipping. They are cast aluminum and could be egg shaped or bent out of trueness. The drive belt pullys could also be slightly out of alignment, off balance, or wobbly. The belt could also be fixed shaped from being packed for a long time. Try laying in the sun for about and hour and it should return to it's molded shop. I have that problem when my sits for a week without use, but goes away after it's used and heats up.

    I tuned mine up the other day after resawing hundreds of feet of oak. The wheels I noticed no longer lined up. There is no adjustment for this. However, after removing the drive belt cover, I noticed the pullys also didn't line up. Furting investigation revieled that there is a clip on the pully side of the shaft for the lower wheel. On the other side, the wheel sits on the bearing and the bolt holds it together. Problem is, the bearing is pressed into place for alignment. Only thing I did was smack the shaft with a wood mallot to push the shaft back through until the wheels lined up and the pullys again. I'm sure I'll be pulling the bearing out and using brass washer shims behind the bearing the next time this happens to avoid the bearing from wareing the case.

    Breaking blades are not that bad. I snapped a 3/4" blade resawing and had the tennsion maxed. It just stopped. As long as the guards are all in place that is.

    For cutting curves and such, make several relief cuts, and do tight curves in segments. Don't make it so you have to back out of a cut more than a few inches, it will save you a big headache. If you look in the manual, it will give you the basic size of the tightest curve a perticular blade can make.

    I hope this helps, at least a little. Feel free to Email me if you think I can be of further assitance. I'm sure some of the other regulars here will offer some more good info as well.
    John E. Adams<br /><a href=\"\" target=\"_blank\"></a>


    • #3
      Two things helped me. A good blade and a link belt. Timberwolf blades are very popular. I use Lenox blades from Woodcraft Bands. Much better than the stock blade IMO. Link belts can be found at most WW stores; I got mine from Harbor Freight ~$14. Changing the belt allowed me to pass the 'nickel' test. Also - a must read - "The Bandsaw Book" by Lonnie Bird.


      • #4
        Thank you VERY much for the advice, gentlemen. It will be a lot of fun investigating these options with my saw.

        John: A clarification. Let me guess, if I am backing out of a cut that is, say, curvy and/or long, then the blade is sure darn well going to not stay in place very well, unless I am REALLY good with my piece of material. Would that be a correct statement?

        As for blades, I immediately went to HD and picked up a 1/8" blade, as I knew the 3/8" shipped was not going to cut it with the pieces I am working on. I'll have to post some pictures on the web somewhere soon to show you how things are turning out.

        I spent about 4 hours out there cutting with it tonight, and things seemed to go better. I was starting to get the hang of it more.

        Also, I had read somewhere on the web today about the need to have the guide blocks pretty close. I was nervous when I first set things up yesterday and spaced them probably a 1/16 or 1/32 out. Placing them closer helped, though I think the next time I get out there, I am going to take your advice, John, and make them touch (no pinching).

        Thanks also for the top on the bearing and guide housing distances. That will help greatly, as I wasn't really sure how far they should have been exactly. I wasn't sure whether the bearing should roll all of the time while cutting, or just occasionally...

        And don't worry - my blade guards will ALWAYS be in place...

        Patrick: Thanks for the blade, belt, and book tips.

        I probably would have tried a better blade from Woodcraft (the store) when I got my 1/8 incher, but it had just closed when I discovered the need. So I figured $10 at HD was a good start. Besides, if I foul up a blade learning how to use and tune the thing properly, better off a $10 Ridgid blade.

        I noticed the prices on your Lennox blades is pretty good. I will have to check that out!

        As for the book, I heard about that from somewhere else and had already asked my wife to pick it up from the library tomorrow.

        It is GREAT to get a recommendation about a book like that from two or three sources. Makes me feel all kinds of better about what it's going to be like.

        Got that one added to my wishlist.


        • #5
          Ooof. Forgot my additional questions.

          Tonight, I experienced two problem that I wanted input about.

          Sometimes, when I did a poor job backing out of a cut, the blade would loose it's front to back alignment a bit. I would like to know if this is a normal thing to happen while screwing up a cut, or if it is indicitive of bad tuning of the saw.

          I discovered that loosing the tension about 2 turns would usually cause it to realign. Then I would retension and keep working. I did this WHILE the saw was running, taking care to NOT detension TOO much. Is this an okay thing to do or a bad idea?

          Second problem, sometimes when I did something REALLY clumsy, I would knock the blade off of the saw tires. So I'd shut it down and put it back on, etc. Any comments, advice, criticism, etc about this one?

          Thanks again for all of the great advice and time!


          • #6
            I have a different brand of bandsaw, but I think these points apply...

            The 1/8 inch blades are fine for "scroll saw" type work, but are hard to keep aligned. Therefore my "normal" blade is 1/4 inch - much easier to use. I have a 1/2 inch blade for resaw, but it isn't a lot better than my 1/4 inch.

            The rule I was taught about the side blocks (cool blocks or regular) was the $1 rule, like you mentioned. The blocks should be the thickness of a sturdy piece of paper (like a dollar bill) away from the blade. Then adjust the blocks forward and back so they are next to the blade, but behind the teeth (not much difference with 1/8 inch blades!). I was taught that the blocks shouldn't touch the blade when it is running idle, to keep the heat down.

            I find it easy to use Woody's rule for adjusting the back bearing wheel - not turning normally, turning when you are cutting.

            If the blade is moving side to side in front of the blocks, it either isn't tight enough, or you are being too agressive. When cutting with a fine tooth 1/8 inch blade, you need to move very slowly to allow time for the sawdust to be pulled out of the kerf. And I pull the blade off practically every time I try to back out of a cut with the 1/8 inch blade. It has never happened with my 1/4 inch or larger blades.

            A helpful guide is to be sure that you have 3 teeth in the wood at all times. So if you are cutting 1/4 inch thick stock, you need at least 12 teeth per inch. But if you are resawing 6 inch wood, you could use as little as a tooth every 2 inches (and more teeth only makes it harder to get the sawdust out).

            I had a similar vibration problem when my saw was new, traced to not-quite-perfect alignment of the belt/pulleys. Very little out of alignment gave a lot of vibration.


            • #7

              It's alot safer for one thing to back out of shorter cut for several reasons. bandsaws can leave rough edges, and the back of the blade can get hung up on them backing out. Not careful and you can pull the blade off the wheels or even break it. Cutting can sometimes releave internal presure in the wood, causing it to pinch the blade. If your in a cut with no way out but keep cutting, you can ruin a expensive piece of wood.

              As for loosing tracking on the blade while backing out, consider you using a 1/8" blade first of all. It's so small, and it's tracking on the crown of the wheels. I never conquered the art of spinning a basket ball on my fingertip, but that's about size of it. Also, with so little of the blade for the guide blocks to run on, assuming you have them set just behind the back of the tooth notch, if you get the blade past the guide blocks, it might not be falling back between them. This is one reason I don't care for the bearing guides. I'll stick to my cool blocks. I've had ZERO problems with them.

              I changed from a 3/4" timberwolf to a 1/4" cheapo blade tonight cutting some arces in the high chair tray. I noticed a considerable vibration myself. I tracked it down to the weld in the blade. At the weld, the blade was not perfectly aligned. So every pass through the guide blocks, or pass over the wheels, it had a little jump to it. Made for a notch in the cut too every time it passed through the stock.

              [ 07-16-2003, 01:01 AM: Message edited by: UO_Woody ]
              John E. Adams<br /><a href=\"\" target=\"_blank\"></a>


              • #8
                Breaking blades are not that bad.

                I disagree with this. Breaking a bandsaw blade -can- be very bad. A friend snapped a blade and it unspooled through the "death zone", the area directly in line with the wheels. This is not uncommon, though as Woody's experience points out, it doesn't happen every time. Once is all it takes, a 3000FPM bandsaw blade is traveling 34 miles per hour, in more familiar terms.

                The safe way to back out of a cut is to turn the saw off, wait for the blade to stop (it will be fairly quick with the drag of the stock), then back out.

                Proper action in a blade pinch or other emergency is to punch the off switch and get out of the way. If the stock can safely be controlled, great, if not just get out of the way. Bandsaw blades are cheap...

                Wish I could help with the setup, but my bandsaw is of a different sort.



                • #9
                  Thanks again for the help - I think I am making some real progress toward getting this thing aligned properly...

                  My wife brought home the Bandsaw Book from the library for me today. It is full of LOTS of great tips, techniques, etc.

                  A couple things I thought I would toss out there that specifically helped me.

                  First of all, I had to get over the concern of "pinching" the bandsaw blade to much with the guide blocks or of the thrust bearing being to close to the blade.

                  The blocks need to be close enough to actually support the blade properly. And the thrust bearing is SUPPOSED to turn when cutting, much of the time.

                  Also, a GREAT tip from the Bandsaw Book. I am using a 1/8" blade to do some fine detail work. Well, the book suggests I replace the guide blocks with self-made hardwood blocks while using small (1/16" or 1/8" and such) blades.

                  Then, when aligning the hardwood blocks, completely surround the blade (front to back). The teeth of the blade will wear their own path right through the hardwood blocks and stay in place nicely. The HW blocks will wear out readily, but can be easily replaced.

                  Of course, when I go back to my 3/8" or so blade, I will have to switch back to the metal blocks. Or maybe eventually get some Cool Blocks.

                  Anyways, thanks again for all the help. I will make sure to be careful of broken blades and the all!


                  • #10
                    Breaking blades are not that bad.

                    I disagree with this. Breaking a bandsaw blade -can- be very bad. A friend snapped a blade and it unspooled through the "death zone", the area directly in line with the wheels. This is not uncommon, though as Woody's experience points out, it doesn't happen every time. Once is all it takes, a 3000FPM bandsaw blade is traveling 34 miles per hour, in more familiar terms.
                    I haven't broken a bandsaw blade - yet - although I am expert at other evils such as pulling them off the tires. But everyone I have heard talk about breaking a blade has had the Woody experience rather than the frightening experience Dave describes.

                    Even moving at 34 miles per hour (with half the blade moving up and half down, the momentum of something that relatively light doesn't sound that evil. Is there something (that we might be able to avoid) that leads to this fearsome outcome?

                    Can I assume that the "death zone" is the area where the work is normally cut?


                    • #11
                      Can I assume that the "death zone" is the area where the work is normally cut?

                      No, it extends outward from the saw. Hard to describe. If you stand looking at the saw, such that the blade and the riser are lined up in your sight, you're standing in the "death zone". The blade spools out the "side" of the saw, so to speak.

                      The part I didn't mention about the story my friend told me, was that his wife was in the habit of standing right there watching him work, but wasn't that particular time. He (and I) was firmly convinced she would have been badly hurt by the blade.

                      If I recall correctly, I learned that name from Mark Duginske.



                      • #12
                        This is a real interesting link and I thought I would chime in with my experience. I taught woodworking in high school for almost ten years and we broke many, many bandsaw blades. Never once did a blade do anything but snap, make a loud rattling noise and stay inside the machine until it stopped. It scared the daylights out of some of the kids but it remained 100% inside the machine. Also, like someone else mentioned, I always taught that the correct way to back out of a cut is to first turn the machine off and wait for the blade to stop. It takes a little longer this way but not as long as having to install and adjust a new blade.


                        • #13

                          I highly value your input. Your word is as good as gods IMHO. However, after reading your post, I studied my band saw extensivly. If all the guards are set up properly, and the guides are just above the work as they are suppose to be, I can not see how a blade could extract itself from the housing.

                          IF: The top guides were set way above the stock, or the guard was not in place at all, or not raised into the top wheel door, I could see the possability of this happening.

                          By no means do I know all of the makes and models of band saws, or which perticular band saw your friend owns. I would like to know all the perticulars to this instance if I can.

                          With my partial disabilities, I most generally stand along side the band saw, not behind it. Especially when resawing. Any information you can give on this incident that can make the hazard more clearer to me would be highly appreciated, for my safety sake.
                          John E. Adams<br /><a href=\"\" target=\"_blank\"></a>


                          • #14
                            Woody, his bandsaw was a Jet 14". This happened a while ago, he has since moved away and I'm no longer in touch with him.

                            It could very well have been he had the guard set high. A deplorable number of woodworkers do things like this. I don't intend to scare the crud out of anyone needlessly.



                            • #15
                              Thanks Dave!

                              I have done the same myself, not on intention, but just due to haste and not making sure everything is as it should be. When the day is winding down and the goal hasn't been met, it's easy to overlook such obvious safety precautions.

                              I'm just glad no one was hurt in that incident!
                              John E. Adams<br /><a href=\"\" target=\"_blank\"></a>